Bees are the epitome of a functional society. Selfless, they work collectively for the achievement of a common goal – bringing sustenance and life to the collective. When threatened, ordinary bees turn into warriors, if necessary, attacking and stinging unwanted perpetrators. This is a selfless act since any bee that stings dies. But the defence is for the benefit of the whole. Resistance is rewarded with survival.
Mykola Zhuravel, a Ukrainian artist whose family for generations has cultivated bees, has developed a collection of beehive sculptures – an apiary – on the one hand functional in that each sculpture can house actual beehives, but also abstract, conveying messages as to what it takes to sustain the collective and how we, like bees, must work for the common good. These sculptures have been exhibited in numerous countries embodying evolving themes as the world around us changes.
The Bee Warrior, the latest in his series of creations, is perhaps his most meaningful. It embodies life in Ukraine today. The effectiveness of the Ukrainian defence against Russian aggression is in the population’s devotion to defending the Ukrainian peoples’ right to exist. Russia has met with losses and severe resistance because the Ukrainian population has banded together and stung the aggressor repeatedly to fend off their incursions. The price has been substantial loss of life but the collective remains. Ukrainian worker bees have been transformed into warrior bees.
This sculpture also pays homage to urban agriculture. Bees can be cultivated and co-exist in many forms. Those familiar with bees can house them and extract honey without safety wear or undue caution. There is a symbiotic relationship between the bees and their human partners. The bees pollinate and promote life. The bees supply sustenance directly through the production of honey. And their human partners provide the structure that allows the bee community to thrive.
To Zhuravel, the more we can emulate bees, the stronger our community will be.
The Warrior Bee sculpture is featured at the 2022 CNE outside the Farm Building. The sculpture is included with admission to the 2022 CNE event.
If interested in purchasing this sculpture, please reach out to Withrow Common Gallery at: [email protected].